The Rise and Fall of Crowdsourcing?Dr. Henri SimulaAalto University, Finland
MOTIVATION• Despite some seemingly successful case examples, not every crowdsourcing initiative has taken off.• While some of the barriers are case or industry specific, there are also certain overall reasons hindering crowdsourcing from reaching de facto modus operandi, especially in the innovation creation context.• Why crowdsourcing initiatives may not always live up to the expectations placed upon them?
CROWDSOURCING “Crowdsourcing is thus a powerful resource for innovators. ... A world of people and organizations is available to assist you, if you have the commitment and care to engage them properly.” (Chesbrough 2011)
CONCEPTUAL MESS… also peer production, collaborative systems, communitysystems, collective intelligence, crowd wisdom, customerempowerment & mass collaboration…
CROWDSOURCING “Crowdsourcing is a type of participative online activity in which an individual, an institution, a non-profit organization, or company proposes to a group of individuals of varying knowledge, heterogeneity, and number, via a flexible open call, the voluntary undertaking of a task. The undertaking of the task, of variable complexity and modularity, and in which the crowd should participate bringing their work, money, knowledge and/or experience, always entails mutual benefit. The user will receive the satisfaction of a given type of need, be it economic, social recognition, self-esteem, or the development of individual skills, while the crowdsourcer will obtain and utilize to their advantage that what the user has brought to the venture, whose form will depend on the type of activity undertaken.” Estellés-Arolas & González-Ladrón-de-Guevara, 2012
Other examples just to name few• Microtasking: Amazon Mechanical Turk• Gamification: Fold.it• Microloans: Kiva• Community development: MindMixer• Work marketplace: TaskRabbit• Crowdfunding: Kickstarter• New business model: Threadless• Etc.
Unsuccessful crowdsourcing initiatives Gambrian House• One of the first firms that described themselves as a crowdsourcing company.• Despite interest from the press and a quite decent member rate, the firm did not manage to engage the community to participate in actual implementation of ideas.• Most of the visitors just looked, and sometimes ranked, the ideas but did not participate to make the ideas real
Unsuccessful crowdsourcing initiatives CrowdSpirit• An innovation intermediary with the original idea to provide a platform for the community to manage the whole R&D process.• The original business model was to sell a product designed by a community to end-users – something that did not work in reality due to the low number of actual contributors.• Difficulties in defining a viable business model that would capitalize on crowdsourcing and provide viable business in terms of revenue stream.• Additional challenges were associated with the development of proper incentive structures and distribution of intellectual property rights
The generic challenges withcrowdsourcing initiatives Can you keep the crowd on board? Can you get the crowd to contribute?Can you make thecrowd aware of aninitiative?
How can you make a crowd aware ofsomething?• How can you make the general public aware of crowdsourcing initiatives?• How can you spread the word about initiative?
How can you get the crowd tocontribute?• One of the simplest ways to motivate a crowd to contribute is to offer significant monetary rewards.• As the amount of crowdsourcing initiatives grows, it is likely that a tragedy of the commons has an affect on crowdsourcing culture i.e. not every initiative is able to motivate people to really work with their best efforts and make them contribute as much as they could.• When people do not feel like being part of something valuable to them, they lack the commitment and engagement and lose their interest to contribute.
Recent example• The number of Wikipedia’s volunteer editors has been on the decline from around 56,000 in 2007 to some 35,000 at the end of 2012.• "Several changes the Wikipedia community made to manage quality and consistency in the face of a massive growth in participation have ironically crippled the very growth they were designed to manage,” Halfaker, et al. (2012). The rise and decline of an open collaboration system: How Wikipedia’s reaction to sudden popularity is causing its decline. American Behavioral Scientist.
How to get a crowd to stay on board• How to motivate participants to ‘stay on board’ after the first excitement has disappeared.• Crowdsourcing sites are competing with each other for available ‘crowd-resources’.• Not all projects will be able to create enough traction, i.e., maintain a sufficient amount of contributors to create a virtuous development cycle.
Additional issues hinderingcrowdsourcing• Organizational resistance,• Tweaking the game,• The crowd versus companies,• The question of labor exploitation,• Dealing with legal issues,• De-democratization of the Internet,• Actual quality of ideas
PropositionsP1. When the amount of crowdsourcing sites will increase the amount of participants per site will decrease.P2. The quality of contribution in terms of added value to a site owner will decrease when the amount of competitive sites will increase.P3. The turnover rate of participants will be shorter when the amount of crowdsourcing sites will increase.P4. Only those crowdsourcing initiatives with lucrative prices and/or a connection to a famous brand or a major link to common societal well-being will be able to continue with “one winner gets all” kind of business model.
Conclusion• Despite the provocative title of this paper we do not want to claim that crowdsourcing is doomed to fail automatically.• We started this investigation with the premise that ‘a hype’ that often coins new management concepts and ‘isms’ requires some investigation that takes a more critical approach.• In any event, we expect many new crowdsourcing initiatives to emerge, some to succeed and many of them to fail…. Time can only tell which will be which.
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